Lucy Peirce has won an award from the London FA for her football development work in Haringey. So I thought I’d find out what she has to teach us.
The bulk of her work has been about women and girls in Haringey and there are two main themes which have worked for her. Firstly – working with local partners such as the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation and secondly the Haringey Football Forum.
She’s put a lot of work into developing the relationship with the women and girls officer at Spurs. She’s always on the phone to them, they’re always managing projects together and supporting each other. Sometimes Haringey Council commission the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation to run projects and sometimes the foundation get funding themselves and Lucy helps link them up with local projects. “The Spurs name is a great hook for getting people involved,” she says, when explaining about the girls taster session work they do with local primary schools.
In fact Haringey, London FA and Spurs are trying out a new system for taster sessions in primary schools. They’ve already been running taster sessions in the schools and nearly all the girls are very excited about taking part. However the next challenge is getting those girls to the clubs, and getting the clubs to run sessions for the girls. To help ease this transition the Spurs coaches are running 5 sessions at clubs. Then they’re supporting the clubs to run 5 sessions themselves, before handing over completely. This means there’s a gradual transition and the clubs can learn how to properly run sessions for girls. This approach has already been tested by the Essex FA and has been found to work well there, so they’re hopeful it’s going to be a success in Haringey. Other local providers in Haringey such as Haringey Sports Development Trust, London Football Academy and Asian Action Group and County FA’s such as London FA, Middlesex FA and the AFA have also been key to the women and girls development work Lucy has done so far.
The Haringey Football Forum is a sub-group of their CSPAN (Community Sports and Activity Network) and is made up of football clubs, coaches and volunteers from across the borough. According to Lucy “The forum has been fundamental to the success of our work in Haringey. It’s the first time some of these clubs have been able to put a face to the Council”. However it’s not all been plain sailing – “the hardest thing is finding the champion in the club to run the women and girls team.”
At first they found it was easy for the Football Forum to become a talking shop, so now they try and focus on two topics per meeting. So, if clubs want to know about linking with schools, then they get Partnership Development Managers (PDMs) and Competition Managers from the local schools to come and explain how the system works. The Forum is also great as a networking tool to help people make lucky connections with each other.
And why does Lucy do so much great work around football. Well partly it’s because they have so many football clubs in Haringey, partly it’s because she did her dissertations on football in the community and on women and girls in sport, and partly it’s because she’s football crazy – with a season ticket for Spurs.